January 14, 2009

Descent Campaign 2 - Session 3

by Ed Rozmiarek

Catching up with our Road to Legend campaign, our third session was played this past weekend. The report is below.

Previous session reports:
Session 1
Session 2

Week 9:
Our story picks up as the heroes are in the Flametail River dungeon after level 1. With the Overlord sitting at 22 conquest, they have a decision. Should they quit the dungeon and try to get to another before I can upgrade the eldritch monsters to silver or stay and get what they can in the last pure copper dungeon. After some discussions, they decide to stay. I shuffle up the dungeon deck and draw. It's level 44 - The Ice Tunnels. "44?" you ask. That's right, Tomb of Ice baby!

For those without Tomb of Ice, this new expansion comes with four new dungeon levels for Road to Legend. The main features of this level are a stair step design using the ToI 4 by 4 tiles with the non-centered exits, lots (and I mean lots) of ice and a frost breathing Wendigo level leader. These last two would cause the heroes all sorts of problems today. Ice is notable for a character's chance of slipping and ending its turn for each ice space entered (rolling a surge on a black die). And frost of course, makes items brittle and subject to breaking.

Flametail River Level 2: 44 - The Ice Tunnels
The heroes are a bit unsure what to do at the start. About a third of dungeon is covered in ice, including the main passages in the middle and near the exit. There is no way to advance without eventually going over the ice. They are facing Tusk, a frost breathing Wendigo with Stealth, Reach and Tread Ice. There are also two normal Wendigos and a Medusa. There is a pile of gold just past the first patch of ice, another pile in the following room (again, have to get through some ice) and a chest before the exit. However, the red runekey is frozen in a solid block of ice (30 hits, 5 armor and ironskin) near the exit.

The heroes spread out with the ranged characters moving up for a shot. Unfortunately for me, I placed one of the Wendigos around a corner but in range for Landrec. Turns out copper Wendigos are one shot creatures too. I spawned some skeletons, losing one to Grey Ker's guard order and then attacked with the remaining and the Medusa. No significant damage. But here's where the fun starts.

I had intentionally backed my monsters away from the first pile of gold leaving a path to it. The path crossed an ice space and then there was a clear spot next to the gold. Grey Ker moves up and crosses the ice to the clear spot next to the gold and wham! Crushing block! I forced him back onto the ice and made the path to the gold longer and across more ice. The damage was nice too.

The party then started finding out how slippery the ice was. As they moved up across the ice they started rolling surges and slipping, thus ending their turns. This was nice from the overlord's view as it messed up their positioning and they lost attacks. The melee characters had it bad as they had to move into position and risked stopping short. This gave me time to do some frost breathing from Tusk. Nanok and Landrec were the first to feel the chill. The Wendigo didn't do much damage to Nanok but the frost tokens stayed around for most of the level. At one time Nanok had five frost tokens. By the end of the level all four heroes had been frosted at least twice, with three of them losing at least one item. Nanok and Landrec lost weapons and poor Grey Ker lost a weapon, his shield and armor. The running joke today was that bare chested Nanok shouldn't be running around a frozen dungeon half naked.

So with the ice slowing down the party's advancement, I had more time to build threat and spawn. A pair of Dark Priests did some damage to Nanok and dropped a curse on him as he killed the master priest. A beastman war party took out a frosty Grey Ker (+3 CP) while shattering his shield and armor. Nanok found out why Ferrox are tank killers. After three bleed tokens Nanok was down to 2 HP. A razorwing almost took Nanok out but we remembered that he had taken an invisibility potion. After rolling the stealth die, it turns out that the razorwing missed on the killing blow. No worries, as a crushing block did the final damage to the cursed Nanok as he was heading towards the glyph to heal (+5 CP). The level leader Tusk got in a kill as well, taking out an icy Landrec (+2 CP).

And where was Varikas this whole time? Well, early on he took on the rear guard role trying to prevent back spawns and tossing orders around. As the other heroes moved up to take on Tusk, Varikas decided it was time to brave the ice and move up to help. Turns out he had slippery boots. Varikas fell on the ice three moves in a row. This effectively took him out of most of the battle. He did finally make it up to the front lines but only after a majority of the minions had been cleared.

So, as always, the heroes were finally able to take out the minions and wore down Tusk (+2 CP), although, Tusk's Stealth ability made it a bit harder. A newly revived Grey Ker made it to the chest which unfortunately was not trapped since I had just spent the threat on the crushing block. The chest contained one treasure, a bow which Grey Ker took.

With the level clear the heroes took on the ice block with the key, which proved to be tough. It took four rounds of attacks to break it open to get the key. Since I was bored, I decided against my better judgment to spawn some skeletons to take a few pot shots at their back. It was a waste of threat as they slipped on the ice getting into position. Landrec took them out fairly easily. At least the level lasted long enough for me to cycle through the overlord deck (+3 CP).

This was a good level for the overlord. Today's totals were 13 CP for the Overlord and 5 CP for the heroes. The heroes picked up 1050 in gold from the gold piles and the chest but had to spend some of that for replacements of the shattered weapons and armor.

CP: Heroes: 28 / OL: 35/35

Ice is nice, at least for the overlord. What I really liked about this level and the previous one, "Stuck in the Middle", is that the heroes were not in complete control of their positioning. The ice made the party very cautious and forced them to deal with non-optimal positions forced on them by slipping. This was in great contrast to the usual team tactics they had been able to use in prior dungeons.

Sure, my monsters got hit a couple times as well by the ice, but all in all, I believe it benefited me more than the heroes. Slow heroes mean more time for the overlord. Time is the overlord's friend, more threat, more cards, more options. Slipping heroes might get left out in the open, vulnerable to attack; they might lose their attack, meaning my monsters live longer or they may be completely out of the battle like Verikas.

Campaign wise, today was a definite win for the Overlord. I now have options. Before the level I thought the heroes would bug out and run to another dungeon before I got 25 conquest. Now I have that and more. I can actually start planning some upgrades and get more into the game. The heroes aren't too bad off. They got some decent gold and they are all sitting on 22 XP to spend. If they get 8 conquest during the third level of the dungeon Nanok will have enough for two power dice upgrades. At least I'll have silver Eldritch to counter Nanok the tank.

Posted by Ed Rozmiarek at January 14, 2009 1:10 PM

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